Fill-in Antarctic supply ship breaks down

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A freighter chartered to replace Australia’s broken $528 million icebreaker has been forced to turn back after a resupply trip to Antarctica due to mechanical problems.

The MV Happy Diamond returned to the port of Hobart on Tuesday after departing earlier in November for a supply trip to the frozen continent.

The vessel was chartered for the summer season to help cover the new icebreaker RSV Nuyina, which is out of service during maintenance.

Charlton Clark, director of operations and safety for the Australian Antarctic Division, said Happy Diamond returned to Hobart twice during the trip for repairs.

He said the electrical components were replaced last week.

“Sea trials were conducted…after returning to Tasmania on Tuesday for mechanical repairs,” Mr Clark said in a statement on Friday.

“Once testing is complete, preparations will be made to resupply Casey, Davis and Mawson stations in December and January.”

Mr Clark said the impact of the canceled trip was being assessed but was not expected to delay the return of the Antarctic expeditionaries.

He said a second ship chartered to help replace Nuyina, Aiviq, was currently resupplying Davis Station and changing summer and winter expedition teams.

“The Australian Antarctic Division is very experienced in implementing contingency plans and adapting to the challenges of operating in the Antarctic environment,” Clark said.

Nuyina, who arrived in Hobart in October 2021 after construction delays, is expected to be out of action for the 2022/23 season.

The 160-meter flagship experienced engine problems shortly after arriving and will be in the commissioning and trial phase for the first two years of her service.

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